Cougars Cruise to Victory Over Panthers

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By Peter Kung

February 8, 2013, Esquimalt, BC (ISN) – The Victoria Cougars scored a season high six first period goals before cruising to an 11-2 win over the Peninsula Panthers on a cold Thursday evening.

While the thermometer outside read four degrees at game time, the Cougars were cooking up a storm inside the Archie Browning Sports Centre.

Wade Johnson, who set a career high five points, led the charge with four goals and one assist.

Victoria led 6-0 after one period and 8-0 after two.

Brody Coulter (2), Dane Feeney (2), Ben Kinshella, Robert Zadra, and Jake Daughtry also scored for the Cougars who beat Peninsula twice last week by scores of 4-2 and 6-3.

And with his tenth three-point performance of the season, Coulter now sits at a league high 117 points.

Getting the start in net was rookie sensation Michael Herringer. The Victoria Royals prospect, who celebrated his 17th birthday late last month, stopped 21 shots which included turning aside a second period penalty shot.

By the end of the opening period, Victoria had ten players who tallied at least a point.

Following the game, Cougars’ president Gary Boyer was not surprised at his team’s effort.

“Not at all,” Boyer said. “With these clubs playing three times in a row and the playoffs looming, we all knew there would be lots of emotions attached to these games. That emotion culminated with a lot of drama.”

Distractions aside.

“We could have easily been drawn into that drama but rather than do that, we consciously decided to let the game be played by the players and on the ice. They proved tonight that it was the right way to do things. I was extremely proud of our volunteers, coaching staff, and players. That is what I expect of everyone involved in our program,” Boyer added.

Johnson opened the scoring at 1:59 after he weaved through a couple of Panther defenders before wiring the puck past starting goaltender Stephen Heslop.

Victoria (43-1-0-2) went ahead 2-0 at 4:44 when Daughtry had his centering pass tipped in by Coulter.

Feeney, who was named the game’s second star, beat Heslop after pouncing all over a Brandon Egli rebound at 6:36.

After the goal, Heslop was replaced by Josh Round but returned to the game less than a minute later.

Kinshella increased the lead to 4-0 at 9:17 after teaming up with Feeney and Mark Walton.

Then at 11:06, Coulter twinkled the twine for his league leading 39th goal.

Johnson notched his second goal of the game with 59.4 seconds left on the clock.

The Cougars outshot Peninsula 28-5 in the period.

At the beginning of the second period, Round replaced Heslop.

The Panthers received a penalty shot at the 1:26 mark when Zadra closed his hand on the puck in the goal crease.

Taking the penalty shot was Hunter Atchison. Skating wide right before cutting towards the middle, Atchison had his backhander stopped by the right pad of Herringer.

After the save, Herringer was congratulated by his teammates.

Feeney gave Victoria a 7-0 lead at 4:39 before Zadra made it 8-0 after beating Round with a wrist shot from the inner hash marks of the right faceoff circle at 14:26.

The revolving door continued for the Panthers as Heslop re-entered the game to start the third period. In relief, Round made 13-of-15 saves.

Will Finlay gave Peninsula (21-21-0-3) its first goal of the game at 4:56. But only 16 seconds later, Johnson restored the Cougars eight goal lead after converting a Nathan Chen-Mack pass into a goal.

Peninsula put another dent into Victoria’s lead when Josh Poland tapped home a loose puck at 7:47.

But goals from Johnson at 13:03 and Daughtry with 3.8 seconds remaining in regulation put an end to the massacre.

Heslop, who was shown the hook for the second straight game, allowed nine goals on 46 shots.

The Cougars went 6-for-8 with the man advantage and 5-of-6 on the penalty kill.

Brett Sjerven, a rock on the Peninsula blue line, had to be helped off the ice late in the first period after taking an Egli slap shot off his leg. The six-foot-one, 160-pound defenseman did not return.

Next game for Victoria is Saturday, February 9 against the Oceanside Generals. Game time at Oceanside Place Arena, located at 830 West Island Highway, is 7:30 p.m.

THREE STARS:

1st star, Wade Johnson (Goals: 4, Assists: 1)

2nd star, Dane Feeney (Goals: 2, Assists: 1)

3rd star, Matthew Ho (Goals: 0, Assists: 0)

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